Will New TV Production Rules Kill Daytime Romance?

Katherine Kelly Lang and Thorsten Kaye in The Bold and the Beautiful
Cliff Lipson/CBS

Imagine this scene on your favorite soap: The leading man leans in to his beloved and, as music swells, he bestows a passionate kiss on…a blow-up doll? Don’t laugh—new protocols to get shutdown series back in production are bringing big changes. 

On June 12, Hollywood unions released a report outlining strict guidelines that TV shows (dark since mid-March due to the pandemic) must follow to get cameras rolling again, including social distancing for cast and crew, frequent testing and forgoing a studio audience. Five days later, the CBS daytime drama The Bold and the Beautiful was the first U.S. broadcast series to restart production.  

B&B executive producer Bradley Bell has said that along with testing and studio modifications, he will keep his actors at least 8 feet apart at all times. But then how sexy can the show, which boasts supercouples like Ridge and Brooke (Thorsten Kaye and Katherine Kelly Lang, above), actually be? According to Bell, producers will add sizzle with tricks like shooting actors separately but editing them to appear close together, and amping up the use of romantic music and candlelight to emphasize the mood. For intimate scenes, Bell plans to enlist cast members’ partners as doubles for their onscreen loves, and yes, B&B has a blow-up doll, previously used as a corpse, on hand. 

At press time, the rest of the soaps had yet to announce dates for production to resume. CBS’s The Young and the Restless (aiming for an early July start) and ABC’s General Hospital have been in reruns since April and May, respectively, while NBC’s Days of Our Lives has enough originals to take them into fall.

The Young and the Restless CBS Group Scene

(Monty Brinton/CBS)

Days‘ co–executive producer Greg Meng has the luxury of not rushing back, saying, “The worst thing that could happen is jumping in and then having to shut down again for medical reasons”—but he’s already rethinking some stories and scrutinizing existing scripts for problems. For example, “Common sense tells us we’re not going to be able to plan large scenes.”

Another thing that’s not gonna happen: “We do not plan on ordering any blow-up dolls!”